Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy is well known for his portrayal of Spock on Star Trek television series and films. As a Vulcan, Spock is of a long-lived species, and his appearance in the 2009 reboot film and its 2013 sequel (Into Darkness) makes him a link between the new adventures and their predecessors. The actor passed away last year (2015).

I Am Spock is Nimoy’s memoir relating to his career as an actor and a director. Of course, Spock and Star Trek play an important role in that career, though Nimoy does not limit his reminiscence to the franchise.

Throughout the book, Nimoy imagines conversations with Spock. As an actor in a series where writers and directors change, he saw himself as a protector of the character (and suggested that other actors take similar attitudes to such characters). This made him passionate about a character known for being dispassionate. At the same time, he had the reasonable fear of being type casted and being unable to get other parts.

Fortunately, Nimoy was able to move on to other things after the three seasons of the original Star Trek series. On series television, he played Paris on Mission Impossible. He also had guest roles on a number of other shows. He also worked on the stage. One gets the impression for the book that Nimoy had relatively few interruptions in his career after bringing Spock to life, though not always with the steady paycheck that comes from being on a series.

Nimoy became interested in directing and tried his hand directing a few episodes of television shows. He got his chance to direct a feature film with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. This was a success and he was offered the helm of the next film, The Voyage Home. He also had a great success as director of Three Men and a Baby.

As a Trek fan, I’m obviously interested in that part of his career. Even so, I found it almost a relief to break from that and read about Nimoy’s other projects. Though he does not present himself as religious, he seemed particularly to relish projects that provided a connection to his Jewish heritage. Even the distinctive Vulcan salute was taken by Nimoy from a temple ceremony he observed as a child.

The book was published in 1995, so it covers the period up to the sixth Star Trek film, The Undiscovered Country, and his appearance on two episodes of The Next Generation. He gave no hint of imagining that he would reprise the role of Spock 14 years later.

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Nimoy, Leonard. I Am Spock. New York: Hachette, 1995.